Star Commander

Star Commander Session - May 2011

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This Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: May 7, 2011
Posting Date: May 23, 2011
Artist Hometown: Arlington, TX
Links: Bandcamp, Facebook
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

Lonely Road
Dear Johnston, My Friends Are Demons
ONE: Tell me about the origin of the band. I know that you’re all from different cities…
Donovan Ford: Me and Christian were in a band previously called Kids of Cons.
Christian Medrano: It was a horrible band.
Donovan: It was a mediocre folk punk band that wanted to be The Who.
Christian: I didn’t wanna be like The Who.
Donovan: Taylor wanted to be The Who. And that band broke up because one of the members left, and Christian still wanted to be in a band. He had introduced me to Ryan previous to this.
Ryan Schefsky: I knew Christian through Kids of Cons shows separately from the whole thing, and we kind of started this as a side project after Kids of Cons broke up.
Donovan: The whole reason it started was because Christian had booked a show without having a band. He wanted to play with these bands P.S. Eliot, Hopalong, and Football, etc., who previously we had never heard of. Now we’re all big fans of them, but previously me and Ryan had just never heard of them. So, basically, he looped us into it, and we were going to be out of town all summer. So we had, what was it…three weeks?
Ryan: I was in Florida for three weeks, Christian was on tour for a month, and we got back and we had eight days to practice before the show. We had never played before.
Donovan: We practiced like every other day for six hours straight and pulled together a weird almost alt-country band.
Ryan: We had a lap steel player at this first show.
Donovan: Our friend Zach played lap steel because we had made a lap steel, but it had no markers for where the notes are, so he just kind of guessed and played by ear, without learning any of the songs.
DJ: These were the same songs?
Donovan: These were almost exactly the same songs. [laughs]
Christian: Yeah, actually. Minus “Daddy”. That first show, when we played “Dear Johnston”, we didn’t actually finish that last part. I quit playing because…I don’t know why, I just quit playing.
Donovan: We have a long history of failure. So that’s kind of how this band started.
Christian: It starts with failure.
Donovan: We didn’t wanna continue for a little bit, and we kicked out that one guy and just…
Christian: They didn’t tell me they didn’t want to continue, though.
Donovan: We didn’t.
Christian: That’s the sad thing.
Ryan: It really stopped being fun.
Christian: [laughs]
Ryan: Then we became a three-piece and pulled ourselves together, and it was fun again.
Donovan: Smooth sailing from then on.
Christian: All because of our lap steel player.
TWO: Your songs contain a lot of characters and references to opaque events. What is the back story, and where do you get the inspiration for them?
Christian: Most of the songs…I would say that the earlier ones like “Leave Her In America” and “When the End Comes”, the ones that I had written like two years ago, are about girls that I wished I could be with, but never wanted to give me the time to show them I could. I reference Virginia and Maria and all this stuff, reference Springsteen and Counting Crows-type stuff, but he [Donovan] hates Counting Crows.
Donovan: Yep.
Christian: Me and Ryan side with Bruce Springsteen and Counting Crows. So Maria and Virginia, Alexandria, Haley…
Donovan: Haley’s a real person… that didn’t say those things.
Ryan: Yeah, she didn’t actually say what she’s quoted as saying. [laughs]
Christian: I told her that, actually.
Donovan: She probably was like, “What? That’s weird.”
Christian: No, she didn’t think it was weird. She sang that song with me before you guys were in the band.
Donovan: That’s so weird.
Christian: “Leave Her in America” was about a girl named Alex.
Donovan: These are all people that me or Ryan have never met before. We believe that this is just some elaborate lie that he tells us, and that he just used arbitrary names.
DJ: So they’re all stories that glean from personal experience?
Christian: Yeah, it’s pretty much all personal. Everything’s personal, actually.
THREE: There seems to be a ’90s emo revival going on around the country with a lot of younger people. Do you see yourselves as a part of that?
Donovan: What’s the rule? Everything that was cool 20 years ago or something like that? It just makes sense because it’s 2011.
Ryan: I think that kind of music really means a lot to a lot of people, especially to me personally. It’s one of those things… Many, many trends have been taken over by mainstream culture, and it always just…everything becomes shallow and meaningless once it reaches a level like that. I think that’s when people in the underground scene reclaim it for themselves and add some meaning to it again. We weren’t a part of that at the beginning. I personally didn’t know that scene existed until we played with Football, etc.
Ryan: We kind of got introduced to that scene through this band, and we kind of picked up some influence from our friends that we played with.
Christian: Innards. Yeah, Innards has been there for us.
Donovan: It’s weird because people hear that influence in our songs, but we wrote all these songs without knowing any of it. One of our friends the other day was like, “Yeah, I really hear European screamo influence in one of your parts to a song.”
Christian: [laughs] What?
Donovan: We wanted to be like Against Me! or something.
Ryan: Early on, people were telling us Counting Crows, Titus Andronicus, Bright Eyes.
[all laugh]
Christian: You had to mention that.
Ryan: Everybody who’s into emo tells us we sound like Mineral.
Christian: We do not sound like Mineral.
Donovan: Someone told us that we sound like Texas Is the Reason. I think they’re just doing it to list off Ryan’s favorite bands to make him feel better.
[Ryan laughs]
Christian: I was completely fine with Counting Crows.
Donovan: Oh, God. I’m not.
Christian: We could’ve stopped there.
Donovan: I would like that to stop.
Christian: Yeah, I make us seem like a terrible influence band.
DJ: So, it’s kind of organic, then. It’s on accident, rather than a conscious decision to sound ’emo.’
Ryan: Yeah. I guess it was like everything came together in the right way, I suppose.
Christian: We’re the kind of band that just throws a song out there and doesn’t really try to work on it.
Donovan: No, we do.
Christian: No, we don’t work on songs. Ever. I’m sorry.
[Ryan laughs]
Donovan: Just not the ones you write.
Christian: I write all of them.